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Teams on the ground and in the air are working to beat down the as-of-yet officially unnamed Jocko Canyon area fire near Arlee. Lolo National Forest spokesman Boyd Hartwig tells us it stands at 700 acres with Lolo Hotshots on the ground. A single engine air tanker and heavy air tanker is working from above.  The Seeley Lake Ranger district will be closing the Forest Service portion of Jocko road for public safety. Scattered evacuations along Jocko Road are complete for the time being. 

Lake County Sheriff's department spokeswoman, Karen Sargent, says 18 homes have been evacuated as a result of the Jocko Canyon fire. None of them - at least to her knowledge - have been lost or damaged.  Also the fire has not yet been officially named. More updates as we get them....

Jocko Canyon Fire

Jul 27, 2013
Edward O'Brien

A new wildfire burning in the Jocko Canyon area is throwing up a huge smoke plume easily visible from Missoula. A Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribes Division of Fire dispatcher, identifying himself as Buttercup, says law enforcement has blocked roads from the reservation to Seeley Lake. The Jocko Canyon road is now blocked to traffic, as is the St Mary's Lake road. Buttercup says evacuation orders have been issued for homes in the Jocko Canyon.  Early estimates of the fire stood at 500 acres, but Buttercup tells us smoke was laying low making next to impossible to confirm that number.

A retired Oregon corrections counselor, who also worked as a parole and probation officer, says America's war on drugs is an abject failure.
       Shelley Fox-Loken says states should have the authority to decide whether they want to legalize drugs that are now illegal. She predicts that responsibly legalizing drugs would result in decreased violent crime and drug use rates, while simultaneously  benefiting state coffers.
       Loken is a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a group of law enforcement officials opposed to the war on drugs.

The results of the NCAA's investigation into the University of Montana athletics department have just been released. Here's a copy of the memo UM president Royce Engstrom released to the campus community today: 

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

letsmove.gov

Missoula County Commissioner Jean Curtiss recently returned from a symposium in Washington D.C featuring First Lady Michelle Obama that was designed to let elected officials share strategies effective in addressing childhood obesity.
     "Let's Move!" is a public/private partnership designed to enhance and build healthy environments for children and adults.  

Montana Folk Festival

Organizers are hoping for another huge turnout to the Montana Folk Festival which kicks off tomorrow.

MT OPI

There's some encouraging results in a survey of Montana students; and some troubling results as well.

Urban American Outdoors

An award-winning television episode takes a look at the U-S Forest Service in Western Montana.

Hundreds of firefighters making progress on the wildfire outside the mountain town of Yarnell, Arizona came off the line to share a moment of silence and watch a procession of the towed vehicles of the 19 elite Hotshot crew members killed over the weekend.

Ron Muffick

College students will notice interest rates on new loans for the fall term will be double what they were just last spring - unless Congress follows through on its pledge to restore lower rates when it returns after the July 4th holiday.

Montana Tech

Montana Tech is spearheading a project that organizers say will improve the quantity and diversity of native plants on the Butte Hill.

noaa

Just as forecasters promised, hot temperatures have moved into the region.

National Wildlife Federation

A new report finds a variety of birds are - and likely will be well into the future - facing significant climate-related challenges.

Experts says that providing care for the elderly or the disabled can be a very rewarding experience. It can also be extremely challenging work.
     A company providing in-home non-medical services to the Missoula and Ravalli counties recently launched a family caregiver stress relief program to specifically address those challenges.
     In this feature interview, Home Instead Senior Care owner, Denise Krueger, says home care is becoming an increasingly popular alternative.

Charlotte Caldwell

The National Trust for Historic Preservation recently released its listing of America's eleven "Most Endangered Historic Places".

City of Missoula

When it comes to fireworks there doesn't seem to be lots of middle ground; you either love them or would be quite pleased if you never heard or saw one again in your life.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks

Various agencies are teaming-up to research recreation patterns on the Blackfoot and Bitterroot Rivers.
     The study will be conducted by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, the Bureau of Land Management, the Forest Service and the University of Montana.
     The point of the survey is to find out what river users like about our waterways and where they'd like to see some improvements made.

In this feature interview, F-W-P's Fishing Access Site Manager, Chet Crowser, says one thing is clear; people love our rivers and more of us are using them.

The "Marketplace Fairness Act" - better known as the "Internet Sales Tax" bill -  recently passed the U.S. Senate without the help of Montana Democrats Max Baucus and Jon Tester.
      The proposal will soon go before the U-S House where it's widely expected to face a more skeptical reception. Montana Republican Representative Steve Daines has already gone on the record opposing the measure. 

If implemented, it would require states to force e-commerce retailers in other states to collect sales taxes for them.

The USDA's Deputy Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment says he believes there's strength in diversity.

Butch Blazer's been touring Idaho and Montana to talk about a number of issues including an effort to bring greater diversity to the ranks of the Department of Agriculture.

Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest

As we recently told you, the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest will soon begin applying insecticides in popular recreation areas.

Summer is almost here and for many Americans that's the time to think about spending a few well-earned days away from work and getting away for an adventure.
     For many though, it's also a time of increased anxiety and stress because it can sometimes be a little more difficult to find that next meal.   
  

In this feature interview, Edward O'Brien speaks with Gayle Gifford, C.E.O of the Montana Food Bank Network.

A University of Montana professor appeared before the annual convention of the American College of Sports Medicine this week to discuss a study on a remarkable group of cyclists .
      Brent Ruby is the director of the Center for Work Physiology and Exercise Metabolism. Ruby and his colleagues research how people respond to various forms of stresses and how dietary and training strategies can help us better prepare to deal with stress. Ruby's a lifelong athlete who says he's always nurtured a passion for science.

National Park Service

Scientists and others will gather in Yellowstone National Park for three days early next week to discuss what they know about the geothermal system in the Old Faithful area. The meeting will take place at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge, and will be open to the public.

In this evening's feature story, Edward O'Brien speaks with Yellowstone National Park Geologist, Dr. Hank Heasler(that's pronounced HESS'-ler), about this conference and what scientists know - or perhaps more to the point - don't know about the Old Faithful area's geothermal system.

Members of the Clark Fork River Task Force met in Missoula this week to discuss water supply and climate condition forecasts for this year.  In short the  hydrologists,  drought experts and others say the recent cool and wet spell has been an important counter-balance for the basin that's experienced several warm spells. Northwest Montana has plenty of moisture at the moment.  Southwest Montana - just like last year - is most at risk for dry conditions this summer. Edward O'Brien speaks with University of Montana School of Forestry and Conservation's Dr.

Be Bear Aware

May 24, 2013

The carcass of an adult male grizzly bear hit and killed by a car last spring near St. Ignatius is now being used to help teach the public about bears. Dale Manning is the professional taxidermist who transformed the animal's remains into a tool that will now be used to teach the public about bear avoidance techniques and the characteristics that differentiate grizzlies from black bears.

As we reported yesterday, Chronic Wasting Disease continues its push towards western Wyoming's winter elk feedgrounds and Yellowstone National Park.
     In part one of Edward O'Brien's feature interview, Dr. Bruce  Smith explained the science behind CWD.
     In short, it's a terrible, infectious disease that slowly saps the life from whitetail and mule deer, elk and even moose. There is no known vaccine or treatment, animals do not develop immunities to it and it's 100-percent fatal.

Chronic Wasting Disease is creeping closer to western Wyoming's winter elk feedgrounds and Yellowstone National Park.
     A retired U.S Fish and Wildlife Service biologist says this is something the public and policy-makers must pay close attention to.
      Dr. Bruce Smith is a former senior biologist at the National Elk Refuge in Jackson, Wyoming and author of "Where Elk Roam: Conservation and Biopolitics of Our National Elk Herd."

Hundreds of Missoula high school students recently witnessed a mock scenario portraying teenagers involved in a devastating car crash; a crash caused by a drunk driver.
     The staged event portrayed everything that typically happens in its real-life equivalent.
     If you've been fortunate enough to have never been in a serious car accident, it was an eye-opening event. And that's just what organizers were hoping for.
     Edward O'Brien - along with hundreds of high school students at Loyola Field - was there and files this feature story...

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